(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Children's Library | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "The History Of Western Education"

GREEK EDUCATION                         31

of the new learning and had succeeded in getting Socrates put
to death for his advocacy of it. Like them, he regards the
intellectual awakening that had its origin in the sophistic move-
ment as responsible for the unrest that threatened the safety of
Athens, and urges a return to the simpler times in which virtue
was based not on knowledge but on good habits. As a matter
of fact, he was asking an impossible thing. However superior
the past may seem to the present, it is never open to an individual
or a nation to reverse the process of time. The truth is that his
educational ideal proceeded from an imperfect diagnosis of the
political situation in Athens. He blamed the spread of learning
for unsettling the minds of the people and destroying their
morale, but the evil really went far deeper. It was in the nature
of thought itself. Even before the days of the sophists, the
Greeks had been busy trying to think out the meaning of the
universe. Their first questionings had been about nature. But
once they had found law and order in the heavens above and in
the earth beneath, it was a comparatively short step to the problem
which the sophists had forced on their attention, whether there
is not also a fixed order in human affairs. Once it had been
suggested that social regulations might be mere conventions, and
not laws in the very nature of things, there was no staying the
flood of inquiry. The citizen had implicitly set himself above
law and custom by seeking to understand the character of their
authority, and the only way by which he could be brought back
to loyalty and faith was to give him such a view of the institutions
under which he lived that he could be assured by personal
knowledge that they were worthy of his loyalty and faith.

This was the idea that underlay the teaching of Socrates,
Xenophon, forgetting his master's principles, sought to stifle
free thought by training the citizens not to think but to act*
Socrates took the more excellent way of leading them through
the doubt that had been created by reason into the certainty of a
deeper reason* And yet the truth did not lie wholly with Socrates,
While he was undoubtedly right in looking to a more thorough-'
going exercise of thought to make good the harm done by its
insufficient exercise, he failed to do justice to the necessity for
training in good habits on which Xenophon kid exaggerated
emphasis in his advocacy of the Spartan education* Goodness
as a personal matter came to him so much as a matter of course,